I trudged through the six inches of new snow. It was early dawn, the light gray in the eastern sky only hinting of the coming of a new day. I take a walk most mornings, more to pray than to exercise. This morning I fear I exercised more than I prayed!
The next morning the walk was easier, because I followed in yesterday’s steps. The next day’s walk was still easier. By week’s end my self-made path allowed easy walking. I conducted my own little experiment, veering off my path. It was a hard way to go, so I quickly went back to the worn path.
As I glanced at my path before me, I was reminded of a key principle for making life better. Paths are like habits: they require repetitive effort to form, but once formed they’re hard to leave. Do something over and over again, think a thought time and time again, or let the heart be enamored in the same way again and again, and you’ve created a habit that’s hard to break.
Of course paths can go to bad places or good places. Habits also take us to either bad places or good ones. Habits in and of themselves, like paths, are morally neutral. That’s why they can either work for us or against us.
When cars were Model T’s and roads were dirt, a sign at the beginning of a deeply-rutted road warned, “Choose your rut carefully; you’ll be in it for miles.” The good news is that in life we have the God-given power to choose our ruts! It may take time to redirect the heart, change our behavior, and turn around our way of thinking, but it is possible to mark a new path.
Old bad habits may die hard, but they can die! New good habits are hard to form, but they can be formed, and they too will be hard to break! It’s to our tremendous advantage to acknowledge and harness the power of habit!
“If anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8